XLVH THE TRAGEDY OF KERBELA 43 arrow, and then in a calculated burst of savagery was ridden over by the horsemen. Not a fighting man was left alive, but like the defenders of Thermopylae they leYt deathless fame behind them. When the seventy heads were brought to Obaydulla, and he callously turned that of Husayn over with his staff, the voice of an aged Arab rose in protest. " Gently ! " he said ; " it is the grandson of the Prophet. By Allah ! I have seen these very lips kissed by the blessed mouth of Mohamed ! " The Journey to Damascus and the Return to Medina.— The two little sons of Husayn, AH Asghar and Husayn, his two daughters, and his sister were sent to Damascus. There the Caliph, having secured the destruction of the family, disowned responsibility for the acts of his officials and entertained the orphans with respect and considera- tion until arrangements were made for their return to Medina. In that city they lived, pouring out the stories of their woes to the pilgrims who, visited the tomb of the Prophet, until dark clou,ds of indignation gathered against the Omayyad dynasty. The Passion Plays.—This tragedy was the origin of the Passion Plays, which are acted annually not only in Persia, where Shiism is the official religion, but also throughout Asia wherever Shia Moslems gather together. I have been a spectator of these plays, and can testify that to listen to the shrill ululations of the women and the grief of the men is so moving that it is difficult not to execrate Shimr and Yezid as fervently as the rest of the audience. Indeed the Passion Plays represent a force of poignant grief which it would not be easy to estimate, and the scenes I have witnessed will remain unforgotten so long as I live.1 The Historical Basis of the Shia Sect.—It was as the result of this tragedy that the Shia or cc Faction" of Persia came into existence. It is asserted by Arabic writers, among the earliest being Al-Yakubi2 of the ninth 1 In chap. xii. of The Glory of the Shia World I have attempted to give the tragedy from the Persian point of view. 2 Ed. Houtsma, vol. ii. p. 293 (quoted from Browne's work). "Among the sons of Husayn were AH Akbar, who was killed at Taff and left no offspring . . ., and AH Aaghar, whose mother was Harar, the daughter of Yezdigird, whom Husayn used to call Ghazala (*the Gazelle')."